Over 10,000 Acres of Northern Forest Protected

October 4, 2011
Chippewa Flowage, Wisconsin

The Trust for Public Land announced today that 10,083 acres of forestlands surrounding the popular Chippewa Flowage has been protected by the State of Wisconsin. This is the final phase of the two-phase effort to place a working-forest conservation easement on 18,179 acres of Plum Creek Timber Company lands.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), working with local, state, federal, and tribal interests, together with a broad array of conservation and sportsman groups, facilitated the acquisition of a conservation easement over a key private property within the watershed of the Chippewa Flowage and Chippewa River in Wisconsin's Northwoods. This has long been a conservation priority because of its strategic location connecting state, federal and tribal lands and waters surrounding the Chippewa Flowage, one of Wisconsin's wildest lakes and trophy fisheries.

Shaun Hamilton, director of TPL's Northwoods Initiative, said "the private-public partnerships that this project embodies are a testament to the shared values we all hold when it comes to the protection of our natural resources, timber-based economy, and outdoor recreation opportunities that support the tourism economy of northern Wisconsin. Keeping the north the north is not just a slogan, but a way of life."

"Plum Creek is proud to have helped to conserve more than 1.3 million acres nationwide and we are especially pleased to play a role in conserving this Wisconsin land that has exceptional recreational as well as working forest values," said Mark Sherman, Senior Resource Manager for Plum Creek. "Such partnerships take dedication and collaboration, and we thank state and federal leaders, The Trust for Public Land, the Wisconsin DNR, and others for their support to conserve this land for generations to come."

The cost of the second phase easement was $4.5 million, of which $2.5 million came from a grant from the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program (FLP). The remainder of the money came from the State of Wisconsin's Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund. FLP is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF is funded through receipts from offshore oil and gas drilling and not from taxpayer dollars.

U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Ron Johnson and U.S. Congressman Sean Duffy supported the federal funding for this effort.

"Without the leadership and support of Governor Walker and the Natural Resources Board Senators Kohl and Johnson, Representative Duffy, and former Representative Dave Obey, the Department of Natural Resources, the USDA Forest Legacy Program, and the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund we would not be here today," said Hamilton.

"TPL thanks all the individuals and organizations who have worked so hard to make this a reality," added Hamilton. "Without the strong public-private partnerships this would not have happened. The citizens of Wisconsin are the beneficiaries of this true collaborative vision."

Under the conservation easement, the property will not be developed and will remain in private ownership. The public will benefit from the protection of the natural resources and recreational opportunities on the property and the property will continue to provide forest products under a sustainable management plan. The State of Wisconsin will monitor the property to ensure compliance with the terms of the conservation easement.

The Chippewa Flowage is a popular boating area, has world-class muskie and walleye fishing, and provides habitat for bears, beavers, bobcats, wolves, and eagles. This major tourist destination helps generate $8 million annually in Wisconsin from fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing. Public access on the property will continue to support the local economy and will allow for hiking, fishing, hunting, trapping, cross-country skiing, and berry picking. There will also be designated snowmobile trails on the property.

Protection of this property is also critical to forest connectivity in northern Wisconsin, where nearly one million acres of forested and natural lands are managed by the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Lac Courte Oreille Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. This large property has been the key to connect these existing protected lands, creating a wildlife corridor around the Flowage and enhancing recreational opportunities.

TPL has previously worked with Plum Creek Timber Company and the State of Wisconsin to protect more than 18,500 acres with a working forest conservation easement within the Wolf River watershed in Langlade County. In Sawyer and Bayfield Counties, TPL has added more than 3,000 acres of Plum Creek lands to the adjoining Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 3 million acres of land nationwide. Through its Northwoods Initiative, TPL has protected more than 125,000 acres in northern Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.